Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bhir Mound


The Bhir Mound is an archaeological site near Taxila in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It contains some of the oldest ruins of Ancient Taxila, dating from the 6th century BCE. Bhir Mound, along with several other nearby excavations, form part of the Ruins of Taxila – inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

The ruins of Bhir Mound were excavated from 1913-1925 by Sir John Marshall. The work was continued by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1944-1945 and by Dr. Mohammad Sharif in 1966-1967. Further excavations were performed in 1998-2000 by Bahadur Khan and in 2002 by Dr. Ashraf and Mahmud-al-Hassan.

The ruins of the town form an irregular shape measuring around 1 km from north to south and about 600 meters from east to west. The oldest part or layer of these ruins is from the sixth and fifth centuries BC; these are believed to be the remains of Persian/Achaemenid Taxila. The second layer is from the fourth century BC and existed at the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great. The third layer is from the time of the Maurya kings of India (third century BC). The fourth and topmost stratum contains the constructions from time after the Mauryan period.

The streets of the city show that they were narrow and the house plans were very irregular. There is little evidence of planning - most of the streets are very haphazard. The houses had no windows to the outside. They opened towards inner courtyards. The courtyard was open and 15 to 20 rooms were arranged around it.
Darius I conquered the area in 518 BCE. At that time, Bhir was still a small town. The archaeological excavations carried out here by John Marshall from 1913 to 1934 revealed heavy masonry of the Achaemenid buildings that formed the earliest stratum of the site. Various other relevant artefacts were found as well.

In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great came and conquered the area. Raja Ambhi, it is recorded, entertained the Greek king here. He surrendered to Alexander and offered him a body of soldiers mounted on elephants. In 316 BCE, Chandragupta of Magadha, the founder of the Mauryan dynasty, conquered Panjab. Taxila lost its independence and became a mere provincial capital. Still, the city remained extremely important as centre of administration, education and trade.

During the reign of Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka, Buddhism became important and the first monks settled in Taxila. Ashoka is said to have resided here as the vice-king of his father. In 184 BCE, the Greeks, who had maintained a kingdom in Bactria, invaded Gandhara and Panjab again. From now on, a Greek king resided in Taxila, Demetrius.

There are important ancient Buddhist sites in this area, such as Dharmarajika, Mohra Muradu, and Jaulian.
Also, there are the remains of other ancient cities that were founded after Bhir Mound, such as Sirkap and Sirsukh.

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